1. DaiFesXII

    DaiFesXII Member

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    Sad author here

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by DaiFesXII, May 9, 2021.

    Hi!

    I'm a fantasy author who has written an urban fantasy trilogy and it's up on Amazon. But it's not selling despite changes to the blurb, category, and keyword. I even spent a little more just to have the book cover for my omnibus. Some say it's an execution problem as in the stories are good but execution is lacking.

    I don't know what to do and I don't know who to trust. I used a beta reader but had a fallout. I also hired editors. But no matter what I do, nothing seems to stick.

    I'm crying over this right now.
     
  2. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

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    Have you done any advertising or publicity for it yourself?

    A book won't sell itself - you can't just put it up there and hope people find it. You have to do some hard work to get some publicity out for it.
     
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  3. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I don't see how that could affect sales. People wouldn't know any of that until they've bought the book and read it. Like @Naomasa298 said, it's more of an advertising problem.
     
  4. DaiFesXII

    DaiFesXII Member

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    Yes I did. I had the first book on permafree for a month.
     
  5. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

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    That's not enough.

    How many other books were on permafree at that time? What's going to make your book stand out amongst the literally thousands of others its competing against? As a first-time author, it's not going to be your name. And it sure ain't a pretty book cover.

    So you need to do some hard graft. That means building a following, whether that's on your own website or on social media, and getting people to buy in to your fantasy world, its characters and backstory, then promoting the pants off your book to them. Get people to talk about it. Maybe that means showing up at book fairs and other venues that cater to your target readers.

    It's hard work.
     
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  6. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    Hello Daichan,

    As Naonasa298 indicated, it's hard work.

    Urban Fantasy is a very competitive genre. Just putting your books out there, even if the first is free and have good covers usually isn't enough. Just taking off in sales is out of the norm. It's like putting your three pretty goldfish out into a pond packed with other goldfish, many prettier and larger, and with a good number less pretty vying for attention as well. Getting noticed in that scenario is a challenge.

    Joining a good group, like here on the forum, is a good start. There are some solid podcasts that will provide up-to-date ideas on writing, promotion and more. It takes time and effort and sometimes cash. And, to be honest, in the end, there is no guarantee of success (however one might measure that).
     
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  7. DaiFesXII

    DaiFesXII Member

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    So where do I post for feedback? They're already published though.
     
  8. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

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    You need to do 2 critiques for each piece you want to post, then you can post them in the workshop.

    I wouldn't post more than an extract of 2-3000 words for each piece.

    However... your question suggests to me you're focussing on whether your stories are "good" enough. The answer is, they may well be, they may not be. But why they're not selling probably has very little to do with that aspect.
     
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  9. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Contributor Contributor

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    As Nao says, just putting something up for free isn't enough. If people don't know something is free, then they're unlikely to find it.

    You have to use social media and advertising. I got lots of people to read my book when I used Amazon's exclusivity promotion... because I planned ahead. The *moment* my book became free, I had posts up on Instagram, facebook, twitter, and a video up on youtube. The ones that could had as many hashtags that people most frequent and use for finding free stuff. People scour those hashtags for free stuff much like a pre-order book category. I also made sure to set my amazon marketing and bookbub campaign to the highest amount of spending I was comfortable with over that weekend as well. Its all about making sure you get the word out to as many people as you can.

    It sounds like you need to do some research about how to advertise your book (even for free) to get it into the hands of the people you want.

    Even then, when you plan these big freebies, you need to make the most of it. I had a webpage, ready and waiting for those free weekends. My book had the website listed on the first page, letting people know that if they like it, they can find out more there. The instant they visit? Bam! They're hit with the subscription mailing list. I got so many people sign up to my mailing list over the two freebie periods at Kindle I was astonished. I hit #21 in the Kindle bestseller list for freebie books in my category...

    ... in contrast, a friend of mine did none of that. She just put her book up online around the same time and set it to free. Result? Barely a sale.

    It's all about planning and putting in the effort. The upside? An idiot like me managed to learn this stuff, so you can too!
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2021
  10. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Senior Member

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    Ah, urban fantasy! I enjoy writing it but so far i haven't written any urban fantasy novels. I find that the market is kind of cool on urban fantasy (I chose trad publishing for myself) which makes me a little bit sad. There's so much to explore at the intersection of urbanism and the fantastic and I'd love to see more of it.

    There's a group on Facebook that is a large, dedicated group of indie published writers, and i don't know much about it but I have picked up the idea that indie pub is a lot like trad pub in that you don't really have a career going until you have at least ten books out there for purchase - but if you're not caught up in the molasses of tradpub you can hit that ten book mark much faster!
     
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  11. DaiFesXII

    DaiFesXII Member

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    Thank you for your kind replies. I feel welcomed and at ease.
     
  12. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    I'm going to go against the grain here. If a book hasn't performed well, advertising it is not really going to help. There is something about your book that isn't pulling in readers. Urban fantasy is very competitive and you really have to nail every aspect of passive marketing. There would be no room for error.
     
  13. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    It could be either or both ... but if the book hasn't been advertised or marketed how could it pull readers in?... it could be the best book in the world but it won't sell if no one knows about it. If a book hasnt performed well advertising/promotion is the number one thing to try.

    Course its also true that it won't sell if its a badly edited heap of shonk with a cover made in MS Paint... the two things kinda go together
     
  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    When we say the workshop is for unpublished work what we mean is that its not for full published works and links to their amazon pages saying buy this shiz today for only 99p

    If you've got published work which you want to revise and improve theres no problem with posting an exerpt in the workshop... because you're still working on it
     
  15. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    There are a lot of people reading urban fantasy that find it through search on Amazon. There should be a certain level of success once someone is hitting the right marks. Without a certain level of success, I would think there is something that isn't right with the passive marketing. Which means active marketing isn't going to help much in my opinion. Could be the best book in the world but if people hate the cover (or the cover looks like the wrong genre) and/or the blurb is boring and confusing, no one will pick it up.

    I'm not saying don't advertise at all but I think spending a lot of money or time on a book that isn't selling at all will likely result in losing money/time.

    As far as being discovered, I agree that advertising is important. Though I think there are ways to up discovery in addition to advertising. Such as using trendy or well-loved tropes (helps with keywords) and writing a niche topic within the subgenre (again, helps with keywords/searches and puts you in a less competitive pool of books).
     
  16. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Organic reach is dead these days... its alright for people who've already got a following, and enough buys to show up in the also boughts and also reads (depending on what fuckery amazon pull with the buyer experience... it seems to change regularly with little reason...) the days of an unknown author putting their books up and 'being discovered' just through having a good product are maybe 5 years behind us...

    you are right that passive marketing matters... but people have to be seeing the book to be passively marketed to... for ads to work you have to have a good cover and a good blurb and a good product... but for all of that to work people have to be looking at your product page (or your advert/thu,bnail in the case of covers) so it all goes together

    also when i say adverts i'm not just talking about AMS/FB/Bookbub... theres also stuff like bargain booksy, freebooksy, fussy librarian, newsletter swaps and book funnel promo and all of that stuff... but you have to be doing something to promote yourself
     
  17. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'd also say i just looked at it on amazon ... on the plus side your first blurb is fairly effective (except that you've got you call to action in the first line... if you're having a CTA it should be at the end) and you've got a decent number of good reviews

    on the down side the cover while nice enough doesn't track with the stated genre, and reading the look inside if i'm honest theres issues.. for example there's one paragraph where you imply that one character is holding four machine guns (I'm fairly sure you meant four characters each holding a machine gun, but that's not what you said)

    I'd also struggle with every character having an alliterative name JJ, GG, ZZ etc but maybe thats a stylistic choice

    I have to say that reading the LIS it didn't feel very urban fantasy... so its possible that you're pitching it at the wrong market

    Overall I'd modify my advice above to be first sort out the product, IMO it needs a good editor (which won't be cheap), failing that it needs some solid beta reads by people who are not your friends or family but are urban fantasy readers... then once the product is sorted you need to pin down what genre it actually is, then it needs a genre appropriate cover and blurb (while your first blurb is okay the others are less so, with the agnes one being the weakest)

    once thats all sorted then its time to advertise/market
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
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  18. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    I don't agree that organic is dead but that might depend on sub-genre/niche.
     
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  19. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    And probably deals with frequency of publishing too. If a person only publishes once a year or somewhere around there, I imagine advertising is key. Compared to the people with one book a month...
     
  20. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Senior Member

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    I took a look at it. You have quite a few reviews for almost nil advertising. And while the cover is slightly off genre it's at least pretty darn good looking.

    My humble opinion is that the writing isn't editor ready. While it's certainly not My Immortal poor, it unfortunately kept making me think of My Immortal.
    The cloaked people shoot everywhere, and my friends get shot.
    That kind of surface level phrasing is all over the place, and not very compelling. An editor can't fix that. You could have a great setting, characters, and plot for all I know, but the prose is just not there. I suggest workshopping, betas, and some study via general reading or craft books in general.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
  21. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Go and join this group 20Booksto50k. It's a group dedicated to self-published authors all of whom are in it to make sales. Once you're a member, you can view the link I included below - it's a thread where someone is offering advice on why your urban fantasy book isn't selling and there are a number of other authors whose books aren't selling looking for advice. Perhaps you'll pick up something useful there. Good luck!


     
    Last edited: May 11, 2021
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  22. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Obviously the link doesn't work. I tried searching for 20Booksto500k and got basically nothing. Is there some other way we can find this particular group? Do they have a name? It sounds like a good place to check out.

    Edited ...it's actually apparently 20Booksto50k—not 500k—and it's a Facebook closed group. If you're on Facebook, it might be fun to join, but you won't be able to access it otherwise.
     
  23. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I second what just about everybody else here has said:

    1) work hard promoting your book, otherwise nobody is going to know it's there

    2) improve the standard of writing ...good news is, you can make some changes even after you've put it up on Amazon. Maybe get some people here to take a look at your first few pages, via the Workshop?

    It would actually have been a better idea to ensure the writing was to a high standard BEFORE putting it up for sale, but since it's already out there, just work on improving the prose and getting more people to notice it. The truth is, more people may have noticed it than you think, but were put off buying it due to writing issues in the Look Inside excerpt. I know I often look at books that seem interesting, just from the blurb, but then I don't buy them because the actual writing is kinda clunky.
     
  24. DaiFesXII

    DaiFesXII Member

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    I can't get beta readers for the life of me to beta read the whole book. The one with whom I had a fallout had to be bribed while the others I had gave up after 2 or 3 chapters.
     
  25. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I checked the Look Inside on Amazon.

    I agree people using initials rather than names is strange, and there's no explanation for it. Also strange that their initials are all alliterative, and even the police dispatcher calls the officer by her initials.

    But the biggest issue I noticed is that it seems to be done entirely through telling rather than showing. And it's a strange kind of very distant telling or something, I don't quite know what to call it. I understand since it's done in 1st person it's all done in character voice and is all narration, but there's something very odd about the phrasing of sentences. And 1st person narration can definitely include some good visceral showing.

    I can't really give any examples or anything, and I shouldn't do that here anyway, that's what the workshop is for. If you post a section of it there we can help you diagnose it.
     

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